Sunday I was treated to sight in Portlaoise that’s a must for every petrol head, Drifting. The smell of burning tyres and petrol fumes excites me and watching cars go sideways in a controlled environment is even more exciting.
For €50 the drivers bring their drift cars to Clonminam Industrial Estate in Portlaoise where a man has re-invented his business model from being a container depot to a Market on Saturday and a Drfit track on Sundays. Martin Kealey has a 2 acre tarmac yard that used to be full of shipping containers and now some of those containers serve as crash barriers.
It’s a fantastic resource for a growing sport, I spoke with one of the drifters who called himself Don Juan, he had brought 16 sets of tyres between two cars. “€50 that’s nothing, we get to use the cars the way we want to, it’s great practice.” Don is looking for a sponsor too help out with the costs of running a drift car, he wants to enter the races and from what I can see he looks well placed to win some too, great car, great driver.

Here’s some pictures and a short video of some action. It’s €5 in for spectators, there’s a food van, seating area, toilets and parking. It’s worth a trip just to see these guys in action.


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Here’s the video of the Fiat 500c, we are very proud of this video, yes we’re getting better….enjoy!


First we start with VW news. The new Passat has been unvailed at the Paris motor show, now in it’s seventh generation it will arrive on our shores in December, there’s to be two diesel engines with both the 1.6TDI 105bhp and 2.0TDI 140bhp engines in VRT band A attracting only €104 annual road tax, there’s also a 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine producing 122bhp with emissions of only 138g/km qualifies for VRT band B attracting only €156 annual road tax.

Looks like it’s following the Phaeton for the looks department, if the engines are as good as the sound on paper this will sell like hot cakes. no pricing yet but expect the base model to be under €25,000

Fiat is the most environmentally friendly brand in Europe

Of the ten best-selling automotive brands in Europe, Fiat Automobiles has registered the lowest average CO2 emissions for the first half of 2010, just 123.5 g/km, which represents a 4.3g/km improvement on its 2009 figure. This remarkable achievement, corroborated by JATO (a world leader in automotive advisory and research services), puts Fiat ahead of Toyota (128.0 g/km), Peugeot (132.3 g/km), Citroen (133.4 g/km), Renault (134.6 g/km), Ford (137.0 g/km), Opel/Vauxhall (141.0 g/km), Volkswagen (142.2 g/km), Audi (154.2 g/km) and BMW (154.5 g/km).

If you own a 500, 500C, Grande Punto, Punto Evo, Bravo, Qubo or the New Doblò you can download a little program that keeps an eye on your driving style, Fiat Ecodrive is a great little application that I’ve been using in the brilliant 500c that I have on test this week, you can download it from www.fiat.com/ecodrive install it and the application will tell you what to do from there, its amazing how much info the car gathers about your driving, if you follow what ecodrive says you can save fuel and CO2, its free too.

Fiat are also at the Paris motor show showing off the Giulietta . The safest compact car in the world (according to Euro NCAP, which awarded the Giulietta a score of 87/100) is fitted with a new 140hp 2.0JTDM-2 diesel engine.

The 2011 Alfa Romeo 159 will also be on display. The revised model benefits from a revamped interior and a new 136HP, 350Nm 2.0 JTDM engine with CO2 emissions of 134g/km and a combined-cycle fuel economy figure of 6.6L/100km. The benchmark 0-100km/h takes just 9.9 seconds and its top speed is 202km/h (All figures relate to the saloon model). The car on show will be a Sportwagon TI in exclusive “Rosso Competizione” livery. There’s more detail to follow on the show and Smokerspack gets to drive the Giulietta in December, expect lots of coolness.


FORD pulled the dust covers off their new Mondeo in Munich last week and first impressions were pretty much what you’d expect from a mid-life tweak.
Looking at the giant saloon in the glistening sunlight one found it hard to figure out where the newness began and the old traits remained.
In fact, you’d have to park the 07 debutant beside the new rookie to compare notes.
It’s only then that you see the subtle changes to the grille and front bumper – including the sexy daylight running LED lights above the fog lamps.
The bonnet get a couple of sexy creases too, improving the lower line of the whole chassis giving the whole car a sportier feel.
But this whole project was not just about cosmetic changes.
No, the beauty here really is skin deep and it’s what happening under the hood is what all the fuss is about.
Leaner, Meaner, and above all ,Greener were the buzz words when the Blue Oval engineers gathered to rip their fleet leader asunder and rebuild her bit by bit.
The result?
A luxury saloon that has leapt from one Tax and VRT band into a lower one meaning it is cheaper to buy and run.
That’s a welcome bit of relief for cash-strapped families and companies alike as the BIK (Benefit In Kind tax on those with company cars) won’t be just as bad.
In terms of green backs, it will see all models which go on sale next month all now in Band B – which means Road Tax has been significantly reduced from €600 on the old 07 model to a minuscule €156.
The good news doesn’t end there – because the emissions have been reduced across the board the list price has also shrunk.
The extensive fleet will now start at a mega reasonable €26,000 – a saving of €650.
That’s an amazing achievement when you consider three years ago 80 per cent of the Irish line-up were in Band E or higher.
The new model goes on sale at the end of this month so Ford Ireland, under Chairman Eddie Murphy, are expecting a brisk January sales period.
“We are really delighted with the new revised Mondeo and are really excited about the great value proposition that the new line up will provide.
“Thanks to the great driving quality, Mondeo has been a favourite with with Irish motorists since its launch and we are sure this latest model will again prove hugely popular, said Eddie at the Munich launch.
So which models are coming here and what spec can we expect on them?
Well, the engine line up will be three diesels, comprising of a 2-litre TDCi 6-speed manual power-plants.
The ranging performance on these engines are a 115bhp, 140bhp and 160bhp – returning a jaw-dropping 53mpg.
Unfortunately this motoring journalist didn’t get a chance to test the lower powered carriages but if the 2.2-litre 200bhp oil burner is a yardstick then we’re in for a real treat.
It handled superbly and was as comfortable devouring mile after mile of autobahn at, erm, above average speeds as it was on the twisty Bavarian countryside.
The only complaint was in city traffic the car stalled twice causing panic.
The start/stop button only activates when the handbrake is on, the car is in neutral and everybody is calm.
Try staying calm when an artic is hurtling up behind you, the lights are green and Yorkie boy thinks you are actually moving!
The new Mondeo is the most technologically advanced model to date, and is packed with next generation driver assistance features – some of which are are already proven in the new S-MAX and Galaxy models.
Some of the more expensive goodies include high-tech features, like Lane Departure Warning, Driver Alert (vibrating steering if you nod off) and Auto High Beam and rear view parking camera.
The entry level STYLE comes with the following;
16 inch alloys; Colour coded bumpers and door handles; Electric mirrors with built-in indicators; Air Con; Front fogs; Bluetooth voice control; 7 airbags including a knee airbag: The ZETEC: all of the above and 17 inch alloys; Parking sensors front and rear; Dual Zone Climate Control; Cruise control; Speed Limiter; The TITANIUM: All of the above daytime running LED lights; Sony Sound System; Covers + Instrument Panel: Automatic Headlights and Wipers.


Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

A man drove a cement truck up to the gates of Leinster House this morning in protest over how the Irish government bailed out, and continues to bail out Anglo Irish bank. Twitter broke the news this morning with a person on site with a camera phone, he uploaded the pictures of the truck in a tweet before there were any of the main stream news-hounds on site.

I think this is a tragic situation, that a man has to resort to this kind of action to make himself heard. It says a lot about our kind of system that someone feels that much emotion that he has to drive a cement truck to government house. You have to ask why this man felt so enraged that he needed to carry out an action so drastic. If someone drove a truck up to the gates of the White house he would be shot before he got within a hundred yards.

What should we do? Ignore him? Help him? Protest until his release? Or maybe mark him down as yet another casualty of this recession.

I think the politicians should sit up and take notice, he is just one voice but he echos the voice of millions.

Bob Flavin


Renault Kangoo 17

Image by 650cc via Flickr

RENAULT ANNOUNCES IRELAND’S FIRST EVER VAN SCRAPPAGE – NEW KANGOO FROM €8,990*, TRAFIC FROM €12,990* AND ALL NEW MASTER FROM €14,490*

Do you own a van that’s 5 years old? If your can answer yes to the above then get thee to a Renault Dealer.

This is a first for Ireland, no one else is looking to scrap your old van, Renault’s ‘scrap my van’ offer applies to light commercial vehicles aged 5 years and older, registered on the 31st January 2006 or before.

It’s a great offer from Renault, if your able to take advantage of it have a look at the pricelist below or head over to www.renault.ie

PR Renault Vans Price List


Renault are working very hard at the moment, and it’s not just the designers, every segment of the company are pulling out all the stops to push the brand forward. This “work hard” attitude is something I admire in any business. I work hard, there have been nights when I’m still working on something at one or two AM, that’s because I love what I do. The same must apply somewhere in Renault, someone near or at the top has surrounded themselves with people who love their jobs.
The new model Megane is the result of that love of the job, I remember the concept pictures of the Megane somewhere back in 2008, they looked fantastic. Obviously the car I’m driving looks nothing like the concept but ce la ve.
The current model comes in a variety of body styles from coupe to estate (called grand)and it’s the estate version that I’m driving at the moment.
When you think estate most of you will think of big agriculture type cars, well it’s not that kind of car, it’s far cooler than that. It looks like the designers were let loose and they came up with madness, then the Euro laws got involved and out of the two a very handsome sporty estate was born.
The long bonnet reminds me somehow of my Fathers Renault 12 TL, it looks nothing like it, it just reminds me of it. Sweeping down the sides there are some interesting quirks in the creases just before you reach the most interesting wrap around rear end on any car in it’s class. The boot lid looks one piece with the rear panels, it’s not, it splits to reveal a 486 ltr boot, more about the boot goodies later.


The back seat is big and comfy, there’s loads of head and leg room. If you don’t fancy carrying three people in the back then you can always drop the centre armrest which has some nifty cup holders build in.
From the drivers seat the car feels low and sporty but very comfortable. The steering wheel is weighted nicely to top dead centre, there is only one problem in here and it’s the gear shift, it feels too clicky. The gear stick feels like it’s attached to the gearbox with some plastic left over from the dashboard. It’s only a five speed box too, and that’s a shame, the gearbox in the Fluence felt fine I don’t know why they put a different box in the Megane. Other than the shift there’s nothing wrong in the cabin, everything is where you’d expect it to be in a Renault. This being a Tom Tom edition you get lots of toys, sat nav, dual zone climate control, Bluetooth and mp3 connection are all standard. Shame there’s no USB connection in mine but I’m sure it’s an option.


Out on the road the ride is firm but responsive, for an estate there’s no sign of a bouncy rear end that you get in most of the competition. The handling is very good too, even when you push it the Megane just keeps on holding the road. The 1.5dci 86bhp engine is solid and in the Megane it seems very quiet, at motorway speeds the lack of a sixth gear starts to show through, the rev’s sit at 2800rpm at 120kph, while that’s not bad it would be a better, more economical cruiser if there was another cog to get too.
Now we have to go onto a topic that will bore some of you, the boot. For those of you who are already yawning at the thought of me talking about boot space here’s a brief version, it’s big.
For those that are still reading let me explain, you buy an estate car to gain room over the hatchback version, so the boot space is very important. Even though the rear of the car is rounded on the outside, the boot opening is square and flat floored. There’s tonnes of space for any shape item to fit in there, there are some features in the boot too. There’s a flap near the opening that you can pin up allowing the whole boot to become a sort of bin, under that flap there’s more storage for drop in items, there are shopping hooks in the back too, they are set a bit too far back but nonetheless they are useful to have in the big flat boot. With all the seats dropped it’s 1600ltrs which is a decent size for any estate.
The Grand Megane is a very capable car, it’s adaptable, spacious and very stylish, the only flaw that I can find is the gearbox, it’s just too plastic feeling and it could do with another gear, if Renault would take the gearbox from the Fluence into the Megane be as near perfect as any car can be, in fact it’s so good my other half wants one.
If you’re interested in trying a Megane for yourself then log onto http://www.Renault.ie to find your local dealer.

Prices look like this, you should get the 106bhp Tom Tom with a 6 speed box it’s worth it.

RRP Trade-in allowance Renault scrappage for cars +8years old Government scrappage for cars +10years old Version from
1.6 16V 110 ETH ROYALE ECO 170 g/km €19,690 €3,300 €1,500 €0 €14,890
1.5 dCi 86 ROYALE 118 g/km €21,100 €3,300 €1,500 €1,500 €14,800
1.5 dCi 86 DYNAMIQUE 118 g/km €22,500 €3,300 €1,500 €1,500 €16,200
1.5 dCi 86 TOMTOM ED 118 g/km €23,600 €3,300 €1,500 €1,500 €17,300
1.5 dCi 106 TOMTOM ED 120 g/km €24,700 €3,300 €1,500 €1,500 €18,400

Let me know what you think, don’t be afraid; comment below.


WARNING BIG PICTURES!!

I spend so long on the internet using Boards.ie, Twitter, Facebook and all sorts of mediums I tend to forget that there’s real people behind the little text that you see on the screen. The lads who hang out in what I understand to be the second most popular section of Ireland’s most popular forum site decided to meet up and see what we all look like.

The Motors section on Boards has a huge amount of traffic asking questions that range from what kind of car should I buy to what the timing should be on 97 Carina. All of which will get an answer, it’s a fantastic resource and it’s free.

There was a huge range of cars there today, along with a huge range of people from all the age ranges, it was lovely to see them for the first time, I have been chatting to them on-line for a long time now and finally I got to put a face and a name to the on-line persona.

Thanks to all that made the effort to turn out today, it was nice to meet you all.


This is the best kept secret in the auto motive industry.
Yes, by virtue of the fact that I’m even telling you this I am, at very least, breaking some kind of official secrets act, and at worst, signing my own death warrant.
You see, secrets are kept for  two very good reasons.

  1. It’s a complete lemon and the manufacturer doesn’t want the general public to know how bad it is or
  2. It’s so good, to tell the same public would ruin its exclusiveness.
    Sorry lads, but the rest of them deserve to know the truth – and it’s amazing.
    There, I said it.
    Yes people, you see before you the words Renault and amazing in the same sentence – the world’s gone mad.
    Recently I’ve used capable, enjoyable and even Reliable with the R word, but never amazing.

Now before you start screaming for the nurse, let me explain why.

We’ve been down this road quite a few times with our Gallic friends.

Take your mind back to the Laguna II or the Megane II or indeed the last real coupe from Renault, the Fuego.

All fine to look at, but not so pleasant to drive and a maintenance nightmare as the miles creep up.
We expected the same this time round. Why wouldn’t we?

So we weren’t fooled by the drop-dead gorgeous looks, bold lines, muscular physic or the spectacular Aston Martin-ish rear end complete with massive twin chrome exhausts.
Inside it just gety better, wall-to-wall leather, Audi TT-style steering, bucket seats, Bose sound system and Bluetooth hands free phone.

Couple that with the superior build quality you’d only find in super executive saloons that only a NASA engineer could tell it wasn’t German and you’re on a winner.
The boys over at BMW, Audi and Merc won’t like this one little bit, but the French outfit have really lifted their game here and the feel of a cabin is one of the greatest influences on buyers – especially women.

And this car has successful career woman written all over it.

The old adage ‘Men are from Mars’ is probably the greatest example of this argument as the fairer sex couldn’t care less about bhp, ABS, ESP, torque or transmission.

No, it’s far more scientific thatn that – if they like it, they’ll buy it.
That’s far to sensible for us men to get our little heads around, besides what would the lads down the boozer say?

Anyway its time for me to get all manly again with the most pertinent question – How does it drive?

Supurbly. The 180bhp GT version I tested had the full package – instant and endless poke, refined handling and as agile as a Romanian gymnast.

This is where Renault reveal their hand, their secret weapon called 4 Control Chassis.

For all you Grease Monkeys out there, here’s how it works.

At speeds of less than 60kmh the system turns the rear wheels in the opposite direction to the front, up to an angle of 3.5 degrees making parking and manoeuvring easier.

It’s also very frugal, returning a whopping 43mpg on long journeys.

That’s another major plus here – it handles like a true coupe  but has the comfort of a saloon.

Take the Mazda RX-8 – absolutely mental to drive, a laugh a minute …. but an hour on the motorway will soon wipe the smile off your face.

Not here though. This slick oil burner will devour mile after mile with absolute ease.

So it’s pretty much flawless?

Well, not quite.

For starters I’ve never been mad about the keyless entry card thing.

If scientists develop a keyless front door then maybe they are onto something otherwise you still have to lump keys around with you.

Anyway, the two biggest chinks in the armour are firstly it’s a Renault and changing a minor fault is a lot easier than changing a mind set.

The second and more importantly is the price at €47,300  (official list price).

It’s rivals, namely the Audi TT and the BMW 320D coupe which are cheaper.

That said, one real advantage it does have is its exclusiveness – the TT has been around forever and the BMW is a common enough sight on Irish roads.

It still gets my vote for sheer sexiness, fun and daring to be different.

A Dita Von Tease in a sea of blonde bimbos if you like!

Phil Hedderman


Kia motors have announced the prices and specs of the latest version of the Sportage. There are to be 3 models of the car which will be on offer late 2010 and early 2011, prices start with the €27,800 1.7D EX model, it develops 115bhp and is B rated for tax. 17” alloys, half leather, Bluetooth and a panoramic sunroof,

A step up from that is the GSE priced at €29,995 that gets you heated seats and full leather along with Xenon lights and climate control.

The first edition you’ll see in October is the 2.0D 136hp all wheel drive model priced at €31,495 features 18” alloy wheels an ECM rear view mirror with colour camera in its standard equipment. Of course there’s a 7 year warranty on the Sportage which puts them way ahead of the competition.

Citroen have been tinkering with their engines and have managed to drop the CO2 emmissions for the C4 Picasso , Grand C4 Picasso and C5 models it breaks down like this:

Engine C4 Picasso & Grand C4 Picasso

1.6HDi 110hp DPFS

C4 Picasso & Grand C4 Picasso

1.6HDi 110hp DPFS EGS

Urban Cycle 6.7 (42.2mpg) 6.2 (45.6mpg)
Extra Urban 4.5 (62.8mpg) 4.4 (64.2mpg)
Combined 5.3 (53.3mpg) 5.1 (55.4mpg)
CO2 emissions (g/km) 140 (Previously 145) 135 (Previously 140)
Engine C5 1.6HDi 110hp

(Saloon and Tourer)

Urban Cycle 6.4 (44.1mpg)
Extra Urban 4.2 (67.3mpg)
Combined 5.0 (56.5mpg)
CO2 emissions (g/km) 130 (Previously 140)
Engine C5 2.0HDi 160hp SALOON C5 2.0HDi 160hp TOURER
Urban Cycle 6.8 (41.5mpg) 6.8 (41.5mpg)
Extra Urban 4.4 (64.2mpg) 4.4 (64.2mpg)
Combined 5.3 (53.3mpg) 5.3 (53.3mpg)
CO2 emissions (g/km) 139 (Previously 147) 139 (Previously 149)

It’s good news as it shifts some of the cars into a lower tax band, you can check the tax rates here https://www.motortax.ie/OMT/pdf/co2_emissions_rates_2009_en.pdf